September 16, 2020
Since a kid, I’ve heard people say various things about LGBTQIA+. Gay gene was a term I never knew existed, back in the day. It was always a mystery to me, how one knows that they are different. The first time I ever opened this topic for discussion with my mother, I was fifteen. I’d asked her what made gays or lesbians (I hadn’t come across transgenders, queers, asexuals, intersexual yet) understand themselves.
She paused chopping her onions and looked at me, trying to come up with an answer for my question. Wondered whether she should continue this conversation or not. After a beat she said, “They are born just like us. It’s their choice to be with whoever they want. However, attracting the opposite gender is the rule of nature. Even I don’t know why or how they feel attraction towards the same gender “. Ever since, I pondered if being gay or lesbian is programmed in our genes.
But a new study contradicts this.
GAY GENE : A MYTH
There is no gene that decides one’s sexual orientation, but genetics and environment play a major role in shaping sexuality – a new study says.
“There is no ‘gay gene’ that determines whether someone has same-sex partners,” said Andrea Ganna. Ganna is a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, also at the University of Helsinki. She is also the lead author and European Molecular Biology Laboratory group’s leader at Finland’s Molecular Medicine Institute. She says that the research re-establishes the fact that same-sex sexual behavior is merely “a natural part of our diversity as a species.”
This new study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science, is not the first that explores the connection between genetics and same-sex behavior. It is, however, the biggest study ever made. Pioneers say it succeeds in providing a more transparent clarification of sexuality and genes.
Previous studies have indicated that same-sex behaviors and orientations might be, genetic. Research has usually assisted the actuality of factors for male sexual orientation can be based on genes running in the family. But has failed to shed more light on the nature of those.
WHAT ARE SNPs?
To check whether the connection of particular genetic markers in their DNA to sexual behavior, Ganna and a team of international scientists surveyed data from approximately 470,000 and more people in the USA and the UK. The researchers specifically made use of data from the UK Biobank study and 23andMe, the private genomics company. All of this data consisted of DNA data and their responses to queries about sexual behaviors, attraction and identity. 26,000 participants experienced minimum one sexual encounter, with a person of same gender, it has been reported.
Researchers reported in their study that they came across five versions connected to having a same-sex sexual partner. But all these versions fail to predict a person’s sexual behaviour, says the report. SNPs is the name coined for these versions.
It is found that one of the versions is seen in a spread of DNA involving various genes connected to the sense of smell. And another is related to the pattern of male baldness, which the authors say could indicate that regulation of sex hormone regulation somehow may be linked.
Eric Vilain is the director of Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children’s National Health System. He says the study notes the end of “the simplistic concept of the ‘gay gene.’ ” . “It just shows us that same-sex sexual behavior is much more complex than this idea of having just one gene influencing it all,” said Vilain, he was not a part of the study. “It shows that there are genetic factors, which we had suspected long ago … but it also shows those genetic factors do not tell the whole story.”
The new research, however, has some limitations. Vilain noted that the authors of this study have categorised all participants that reported one sexual encounter with a same-sex person, into a same group. “The problem with this is that it might dilute the efficiency of a search for genetic factors that may be present only in individuals who have exclusive same-sex attraction throughout their lives,” he said. However, Vilain said, “it does capture the complexity of same-sex attraction. It captures real-life experiences rather than trying to put people into bins that are always arbitrary.” He also said that the study, which involves almost only European-American participants, lacks in diversity. “It’s missing out on what’s going on in other populations,” he added.